Caravan “The South Resists” – Day 1: Pijijiapan and Tonalá (Chiapas Coast)

Listen to the audios and see the photos here:
Text: The South Resists!
Audios extracted from: Assembly of Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of the Land and Territory
Editing: Radio Zapatista
Photos: Observatorio Memoria y Libertad, CNI and Medios libres

Ejido de Progreso, Pijijiapan, Chiapas

The Caravan departed from the Ejido La Gloria, where the Regional Autonomous Council of the Chiapas Coast carries out various activities related to learning and sharing knowledge about agroecology and eco-techniques; from there we moved to the Ejido of El Progreso where a march and political rally was held.

In the dome of the central plaza we heard the words of the Autonomous Council, who shared their experience of almost 30 years of struggle which has been concentrated, but not reduced to, on denouncing and resisting the high electricity rates of the Federal Electricity Commission, and who demand that the constitutional recognition of electricity as a human right be applied and therefore must be guaranteed by the Mexican State.

“Why do we have to choose between eating, between clothes, and paying a 1500 pesos or 3000 pesos bill? We are peasants, workers, fishermen; we do not have to pay these fees. We demand that, just as there are energy companies in Chiapas, that we have the right to have light.”

-Member of the Regional Autonomous Council of the Coast of Chiapas

Members of the Autonomous Council also emphasized that their organization also intersects with other issues, such as the imposition of projects that promote supposed development but instead only bring environmental and economic impacts to the inhabitants, violence against women, and the lack of respect for the rights of the communities were also issues mentioned at the rally.

One woman shared how the government has come promising roads, hospitals and schools in exchange for allowing mining projects to go ahead, but the communities have resisted and have organized to prevent the mines from coming to this region. One of the functions of the Autonomous Council is to raise awareness in the communities to alert them to the government’s false promises in exchange for accepting projects of all kinds (real estate, mining, energy and assistance programs).

There is also talk of the intention of the government and the companies to take over everything, the water, the resources, the food, the jungle and even the sons and daughters of the community. In the face of this, the community shares that they will continue to fight and resist this theft, the lies and imposition on their territory.

“They want to take over our decisions, our resources, they are taking over the family, the water, the air. Everything we need to live, they want to take control. In parts where there is no organization they have succeeded, in other places, like here, we have managed to resist.”

– Member of the Regional Autonomous Council of the Chiapas Coast

Tonala, Chiapas

After visiting the community of El Progreso, the Caravan “El Sur Resiste” advanced towards the city of Tonalá, Chiapas, where another political rally organized by the Civil Resistance Committee of “Frente Cívico Tonalteco” took place in the main garden in front of the city’s City Hall.

There they spoke about the mega-projects called “Transisthmian Corridor” and the project called “Mayan Train”; the voice of the members of several communities of the Isthmus of Oaxaca, of Veracruz, of the Otomí community living in Mexico City and of the town of Santiago Mexquititlán was of rejection of these two projects for imposing a policy of exploitation and violations of the rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

During the rally, it was mentioned how these two projects are in themselves a project of extermination of the Mexican Southeast, since they bring with them many other projects that will benefit foreign industries and not the local communities, as has been argued, including projects in the tourism, real estate, energy, mining, textile, maquiladora, agro-industrial, and fish farming industries, among others.

To exemplify this situation, also mentioned was the Federal Government’s intention to build a network of gas pipelines connecting Guatemala with the Isthmus Region and the coast of Chiapas (including the city of Tonalá).

The gas pipeline referred to by the members of the Caravana El Sur Resiste is not the only one planned for the region. In various meetings of energy and oil companies, since the last six-year term, and to date, the Federal Governments and the private sector have communicated the intention to connect the gas pipelines – at the same time as connecting them with the Tren Maya Project and the Transisthmian Corridor – of the following regions:

– DUCTO TEXAS-TUXPAN-, VERACRUZ, – DOS BOCAS, TABASCO, with a length of 700 km and an investment of 5 billion dollars.

– DUCTO: CACTUS, OAXACA-DOS BOCAS, TABASCO, with a length of 60 km and an investment of one billion dollars.

The same declarations of the private sector regarding this macro-network of gas pipelines, speaks of the plan to grant these projects to private investment, which reinforces the arguments of the communities within the Caravana El Sur Resiste  when they speak of these projects as initiatives for the benefit of foreign mega-companies and private capital.

Militarization y migration

As has been discussed in various investigations and as the communities have mentioned, the negative effects of the Tren Maya and Corredor Transístmico projects of death extend beyond environmental destruction, they also include violations to the human rights of the various Indigenous Peoples that inhabit these territories, and the destruction of their culture at the cost of the benefit of foreign millionaires; in addition to the increase of military presence, the National Guard, other police forces, paramilitary and drug trafficking, thereby of violence against the people who inhabit these regions.

In Chiapas, for example, a total of 147 military camps have been built to date, many of these barracks have been located in close proximity to Zapatista base communities.

One of the objectives of the Mayan Train and the Transisthmian Corridor is to create mega industrial zones throughout the Southeast region, which in addition to converting the original inhabitants into cheap labor for various industries, will be a containment zone for migrants from all over the world who begin their transit to the United States through Chiapas, Yucatan and other routes.

The impacts of this policy are already tangible in the area of Chiapas and in the area that the Caravan is following, just in our journey from Tonala, Chiapas to Puente Madera, Oaxaca, we passed more than 9 checkpoints with personnel from the Mexican Army, the National Guard, State Police, and the National Migration Institute, who stopped the different transports of the Caravan on at least 7 occasions, the National Guard, State Police, and the National Migration Institute, who stopped the different Caravan transports on at least 7 occasions, photographed the cars, and on four occasions boarded the trucks, also photographing the participants.

At the checkpoint that marks the division between Chiapas and Oaxaca, in addition to being photographed by the official bodies of repression of the Mexican State, we were photographed by people dressed in civilian clothes, who were traveling on motorcycles and who followed our path the first few meters after passing the checkpoint; we do not know the nature and purpose of these people, but we warned with the highest caution of their presence near the military forces.

Throughout the trip, we were able to observe various groups of people who travel the long roads on foot, and who, when they see the checkpoints mentioned above, entering the brush that flanks the paved roads. Much of the time, other risks await them on these roads, such as exploitation and trafficking at the hands of organized crime groups in collusion with local authorities, the army, and other police forces.

In the small part we were able to visit in the state of Chiapas, the impacts of the Tren Maya and Transisthmian Corridor megaprojects are already being experienced in the policy of militarization and retention/persecution of people en route to the north.

The negative environmental and social impacts are slow in coming, but they are looming in the near future, and the communities are calling for resistance to these megaprojects and the various projects they bring with them; if they are not resisted, the environmental and social catastrophe is closer than ever.

To end the day, the Caravan was received by the community of Puente Madera with community members carrying torches and shouting slogans in their steadfast decision to defend the territory against the Interoceanic Corridor.

Original article published: and
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

Want to receive our weekly blog digest in your inbox?

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top